New California Legislation Moves Us Closer to a Circular Economy

Jay Gould

Governor Brown of California recently signed into law an important piece of legislation that will take us a step closer to the realization of a circular economy in the State of California. The Governor signed into law AB 1158, enhancing California’s carpet recycling program.

California Coast

At Interface, we see this new law as a positive step forward to driving a truly circular economy in our industry. We have been committed with our own ReEntry product take back program, and have been recycling product for more than two decades. But, we felt it so important to push for this legislation that we joined a broad coalition of organizations to support and lobby for this bill.

Meanwhile, the majority of our industry – including the carpet industry’s trade association and most of our competitors – aggressively opposed it or chose to do nothing.

Doing the right thing – in this case supporting legislation that improves recycling in the U.S.’s largest state – is in our DNA at Interface. We took this step for our customers, our people and the environment. It’s important for us to be good stewards of the waste our industry creates. Carpet is one of the top 10 landfill materials, consuming 3.2 percent of total landfill space. We know that advocacy sometimes makes people uneasy, but advocacy is also sometimes necessary. Failure to speak up changes nothing, and if we want to create a circular economy, we need to change our current approach.

How does AB 1158 support more carpet recycling?

This new law refines the State of California’s commitment to create a recycling system for carpet products. It establishes tangible goals for the recycling program including targets for recycling rates by annual deadlines. It creates a multi stakeholder council to provide input to the state’s organization and importantly, it requires the state of California to purchase carpet with post-consumer recycled content. Additionally, AB 1158 prohibits spending assessment money on incineration, as some in the industry have skirted landfill diversion through incineration, rather than recycling, of reclaimed product.

The State of California is the only state with a law and a recycling program like this. It provides subsidies to recyclers of California carpet to help them grow and, consequently, raise the recycling rates in the state. State supported carpet recycling like this is important to help transition toward a circular economy model, sending a market signal to manufacturers and providing the needed certainty and incentives to help establish recycling infrastructure.

How can you participate in driving a circular approach?

There are a few key steps you can take to help support this effort.

  1. Make sure you include post-consumer recycled content requirements in your purchasing criteria.
  2. Ask critical questions of carpet manufacturers to ensure they have active recycling programs. Also, ask for details on what happens after the products are collected for take back.
  3. Encourage more carpet recycling whenever you have the opportunity to do so – raise it with your customers on refurbishment projects and talk about it with general contractors.

Together we can make the circular economy a reality. A circular economy is also a low carbon economy, which will help us address global warming and create a climate fit for life. We applaud Governor Brown for signing this new bill into law, with California taking the lead on a critical issue in our industry.

Jay D. Gould
Interface CEO

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